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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

244                                   UGFE   OF
never rains, the inhabitants know neither hail nor the
rolling thunder and flashing lightning of the atmo-
sphere. The atmospheric thunder is there replaced
by the subterranean sounds which accompany the
earthquakes. Long custom., and the universal opinion
that dangerous earthquakes occur only two or three
times in a century, have had such an influence that
slight agitations of the earth cause no more alarm
in Lima than a hailstorm would in the temperate
zones.
The subterranean sounds, if unaccompanied by any
sensible earthquake, make a peculiarly deep impres-
sion, even on those who have for some time inhabited
a volcanic soiL They wait anxiously for what is to
succeed the subterranean thunder. The most curious
and quite singular example of uninterrupted sub-
terrestrial sounds., without any trace of earthquake, is
afforded in the phenomenon which is known in the
Mexican highlands, by the name of the roaring or sub-
terranean thunder of Guanamato. This celebrated
and rich mining town, lies far from any active volcano.
The noise had been heard for more than a month since
midnight, the 9th January, 1784. It seemed as if
heavy thunder clouds were lying beneath the feet of
the inhabitants, and in which, slowly rolling thunder
alternated with short thunderclaps. It was confined
to a small space a few miles distant; on a basaltic
soil nothing was heard. * Thus the chasms open and
close deep in the bowels of the earth/*
AUKOBA   BOREALIS,
, . * . . fiŁ Deep in the horizon, in the region
where it is crossed by the magnetic meridian, the clear
blue sky is obscured. An apparently thick fogbank
is formed, which gradually rises to a height of eight
or ten degrees. The colour of this dark segment
plays into brown or violet. Stars are visible in this
region of the firmament, seemingly obscured by a